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BOARD OF VISITORS

UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY

(PUBLIC_NO. 416—70TH CONGRESS]

[H. R. 8105]

An Act To provide for the membership of the Board of Visitors, United States Military Academy, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That hereafter the Board of Visitors to the United States Military Academy shall consist of five members of the Committee on Military Affairs of the Senate, two members of the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate, seven members of the Committee on Military Affairs of the House of Representatives, and five members of the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives, to be appointed by the respective chairmen thereof; the members so appointed shall visit the United States Military Academy at least once annually at such time or times as the chairmen of said committee shall appoint, and the members from each of said committees may visit said academy together or separately as the respective chairmen of said committees may elect; and the superintendent of the academy and the members of the Board of Visitors shall be notified of such date by the chairmen of the said committees : Provided, That members chosen by the respective chairmen of the said committees who have been reelected to the Senate or House of Representatives may continue to serve as members of the Board of Visitors and visit the United States Military Academy, notwithstanding the expiration of Congress. The expenses of the members of the board shall be their actual expenses while engaged upon their duties as members of said board and their actual expenses of travel.

Approved, May 17, 1928

HISTORICAL SKETCH. The United States Military Academy is a school for the practical and theoretical training of cadets for the military service. Upon completing its course satisfactorily, cadets are eligible for promotion and commission as second lieutenants in any arm or corps of the Army the duties of which they have been adjudged competent to perform.

The supervision and charge of the Academy are in the War Department under such officer or officers as the Secretary of War may assign to that duty (section 1331, Revised Statutes.) In conformity with the provisions of this section, the Chief of Staff has been, by direction of the Secretary, charged with the supervision of matters in the War Department pertaining to the Academy.

The occupation of West Point as a military post took place on January 20, 1778, and has been continuous since that date. The earliest proposal for a military school for the United States was that of Brigadier General Henry Knox, Chief of Artillery (May, 1776). His plans were seconded by Colonel Alexander Hamilton and approved by General Washington, though they were not adopted in the form suggested before 1802, other counsels having temporarily prevailed.

On October 1, 1776, Congress passed a resolution appointing a committee to prepare a plan for “A Military Academy at the Army.” The result was the resolution of June 20, 1777, providing for a Corps of Invalids “to serve as a military school for young gentlemen previous to their being appointed to marching regiments." The invalid Corps was organized in July, 1777, and in 1781, at the request of Washington, was marched from Philadelphia to form part of the garrison at West Point, where an engineer school, a laboratory, and a library had already been established in three separate buildings.

On March 30, 1779, the Board of War adopted regulations for the Corps of Engineers and for the Sappers and Miners. These were promulgated in orders, July 30, 1779, by George Washington and provided for a plan of instruction to be carried into effect after approval by the Board and by the General-in-Chief. The plan contemplated lectures, by engineer officers, on fortification, mining, reconnaissance, encampments and the like. Practical experiments in gunnery were conducted at West Point as early as February, 1780. In 1783, after the cessation of hostilities, Washington, having been called upon for his views as to the peace establishment, laid the matter of a Military Academy before his officers at Newburgh. He referred to it again in his message on December 3, 1793. The law of May 9, 1794, authorized the organization of a Corps of Artillerists and Engineers with two cadets to a company, thus creating the new grade of "cadet" in the American Army. A school for the Artillerists and Engineers, and for the cadets attached to the Corps, was established, on the recommendation of Washington, by order, at West Point in 1794. The destruction of its buildings by fire, in 1796, caused its suspension. In July, 1801, the Secretary of War directed that all the cadets of the Corps of Artillerists should report at West Point for instruction, and in September, a school was opened with four army officers and a civilian as administrators and instructors.

An act of Congress approved March 16, 1802, authorized the President to organize and establish a Corps of Engineers to consist of five officers and ten cadets, and provided that it should be stationed at West Point, in the State of New York, and should constitute a Military Academy. The Academy with ten cadets present, was formally opened July 4, the year of the Act.

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